As we assembled The Valley Reporter’s “Year in Review” stories we realized that aside from all the regular things that happen in our Valley over the course of year – the permit battles, the school budget debates, the political campaigns,  recovery from floods, roads, pavement, and bridges – there was one recurring theme.

And that theme had to do with food and the choices we make for ourselves and our schools and public institutions about where we get that food. That theme is intrinsically linked to the land around us that creates our rural landscape.

Either we at The Valley Reporter are obsessed with local food or we as a community are, but it might be something else entirely going on, it might be that we’re moving towards food self-sufficiency.

With every small specialty farmer to open up shop in our towns we move more towards food self-sufficiency. With every piece of prime ag land that is put into conservation, we move towards food self-sufficiency and ensure that our prime ag land won’t grow a crop of houses.

With every food producer to come to the Mad River Food Hub and create value-added products, we’re all one step closer to being able to feed ourselves. For every elementary school that purchases a cow and processes it at our food hub, we’re supporting local farmers and eating food whose origin is known to us.

With every pound of produce, butter, cheese and meat we purchase from our local farmers, we’re making sure they can prosper and that we are eating food that is grown near us.

It’s been happening here for over a decade, but it’s now starting to pick up its own momentum. The Valley in not alone. Vermont leads the nation in its efforts to eat locally grown/produced and raised foods.

Creating a vibrant and diversified local economy where we know our farmers/producers and prime ag land is valued for its ability to produce our food – it is here that our future lies.

Many have argued that true homeland security means being able to feed ourselves.  And we’re working on it.